Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has reportedly been appointed as Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers' chairman (BNBBC) ahead of the tabling of Budget 2021
This is in spite of Najib being convicted on 28 July for abuse of power, money laundering, and criminal breach of trust in the SRC International case and being sentenced to 12 years' jail.
According to BN sources, The Malaysian Insight reported that the appointment will empower Najib to decide which Members of Parliament (MPs) from the party get to speak during the tabling of Budget 2021 and set the tone for the debate.
Najib's aide has confirmed the appointment, reported The Star.
There are 43 MPs in the BN coalition, but among those, 20 MPs are in the government; leaving only 23 MPs from the coalition as backbenchers.
Najib's role will be crucial in reflecting UMNO's demand on the budget, which is set to be tabled on Friday, 6 November.
Sources added that with Najib's influence, the Pekan MP will be able to tame the tension between UMNO and Bersatu
The political alliance between UMNO and Bersatu has been rocky over the past few months, as evident with UMNO president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's statement on 30 July, saying that his party will not formally join the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.
This led to talks of renegotiating terms for political cooperation, while UMNO hinted at withdrawing its support for PN.
However, the decision was reversed on 27 October following Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's failed attempt to declare a state of emergency in Malaysia.
In light of this, sources told The Malaysian Insight that Najib is a great candidate to steer through the tension and resolve any possible dispute.
"He is experienced so he can influence the parliamentarians," said the source.
Following the news of Najib's appointment, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has criticised the arrangement and called on Parliament not to recognise Najib's new role
In a blog post published today, 2 November, Lim said Najib's BNBBC appointment will "plunge the Malaysian Parliament into a new shame and infamy".
Citing Najib's conviction in the SRC case and his ongoing trial in the 1MDB case, Lim contended that the appointment showed that the BN coalition is not upholding public integrity and anti-corruption principles.
"Najib's appointment as BNBBC and Parliament's recognition of this appointment is completely antithetical to the task of 'making the people of Malaysia whole'," said Lim.
Prior to this, Muhyiddin's administration attempted to declare an emergency as a way to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the country: